To quote Chris Byrne of Stonehill Kennel, located in Connecticut, www.k9one.com, a protection dog is "a good man's best friend, and a bad man's worst enemy." I'd never even thought about the usefulness or value of a protection dog until I started writing "Checkmate." As it turned out, Mika, a German Shepherd, is one of my favorite characters in the book. When I decided that Zach and Caryn should have a dog to help protect her from Dan, I searched the web and found Stonehill Kennel. On a whim, I contacted them to see if they would be willing to give me a little information so I could be acurate in my portrayal of Mika. Chris Byrne answered my email only a few hours later, and he did much more than give me a "little" information. He was so kind and cooperative, and even agreed to be a character in the book. I bombarded him with emails over the next six or seven months, sending him scenes from the book to look over. In fact, he read the entire book for acuracy when I was done. He's also a former sheriff, so was able to tweak some of Brian's work, ( the cop in the book) also.
Chris informed me immediately of the difference between a "guard dog" and a "protection dog." Guard dogs are anti-social creatures who are trained to patrol an area and attack anyone who trespasses on the property. A protection dog, on the other hand, is trained to defend its master, yes, but only on command or if presented with a direct threat. Basically, they're pets...they're only truly happy when their with their masters and will give their lives without hesitation to protect them. I about fainted (and so did my characters in "Checkmate") when I heard the price of these dogs. Zach bought Mika for $15,000, (This is what Chris told me the average protection dog costs) but she pays for herself ten times over during the course of the book. The scenes featuring the dog are some of the most action-packed, suspenseful scenes in "Checkmate." Some of them are also the most heart-wrenching.
If you've ever thought about owning a protection dog, be sure to pick up a copy of "Checkmate." (And be patient. Mika doesn't appear until around page 200.) You'll see just why they are "a good man's best friend, and a bad man's worst enemy."